Sent to all students, faculty and staff, March 13, 2020


To our students, faculty, staff and community members,

I write this afternoon to share an important update for how University of the Arts is responding to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Like you, I too have watched in disbelief as the virus has indiscriminately infected and upended communities across the world in just a few short months. As of this week, the outbreak reached new levels of impact, officially becoming a global pandemic. And while still very few cases have been confirmed in Philadelphia, the impact on our city and surrounding area has been enormous. The outbreak is changing how we live our lives and forcing us to make unprecedented decisions. 

At University of the Arts, our mission of advancing human creativity can only be pursued when our community of students, faculty and staff are healthy, safe and thriving. We know that the virus is spread through close human to human contact, which is a part of any university culture, but especially an art, design, and performing arts university like ours. While we continue to monitor this evolving situation, our responsibility to our community has called for the following actions: 

Week of March 16: 

  • Spring break has been extended through this week for students only; academic buildings will remain closed to students, work-study will continue to be suspended, and housing remains limited to only those with extenuating circumstances.

  • All faculty and staff are expected to return to campus for a week of planning that will be supported by the Office of the Provost, school deans, department heads as well as the Office of the President. The University will also issue new policy to address how faculty and staff should approach a variety of circumstances which may require absence from work or remote working arrangements related to the outbreak. At present, our current paid sick time and personal leave policies remain in effect, and faculty and staff should discuss any needed absence with their direct supervisor and HR. As always, any faculty or staff member feeling unwell should stay home. Those returning from a level 2 or level 3 country as determined by the CDC or directly exposed to someone who is confirmed positive for coronavirus should also not come to work, but report this to their supervisor and HR to discuss a self-quarantine process.

  • All University sponsored events have been canceled.

Week of March 23: 

  • Beginning Monday, March 23, all in-person class meetings at University of the Arts will be suspended and replaced by alternate modes of learning primarily through online and virtual instruction. Faculty will communicate with their students how course schedules, assignments and expectations will change in the coming weeks. The duration of the suspension of in-person class meetings is not yet fully known, but students, faculty and staff should prepare for alternate modes of learning to be in effect through at least mid-April. We anticipate updating the community no later than the first week of April. 

  • As of Monday, March 23, all residence halls remain available only to those residents from Level 2 and 3 countries and those with housing insecurities. Residential students who are currently out of town should not plan to return to campus. University Residential Life staff will work with residential students who are currently away from campus to identify priority personal items for return (ex: medical devices). Residential students will receive an email with details shortly. Resident students currently on campus should make plans to depart no later than Sunday, March 22. Any residential student facing extraordinary hardship who absolutely cannot return home will be supported. Please contact reslife@uarts.edu. The duration of the restrictions on residence halls is not yet known, but students should plan for an extended period away through at least mid-April. We anticipate updating the community no later than the first week of April.

  • All University sponsored events, public programs and galleries will be canceled and/or closed through at least April 12. Updates to late spring and summer programs will be shared in the coming weeks.

Looking Ahead: 

This transition will not be easy. We recognize that we are asking the entire University community to temporarily change fundamentally how we deliver all programs and services. To be successful, it will require the collective effort of our entire community – students, faculty and staff. While we will trade our physical classrooms, shops, studios, and stages for virtual ones, our mission will remain the same – to advance human creativity in an increasingly technology driven world. This week, we join the technology driven world like never before. 

I invite all of you to consider not how you can continue doing what you did two weeks ago, but rather – how can you, a community of creatives, establish a virtual environment like no other? What opportunities exist online that may not have existed in your classroom? Whether you are a student about to join your first class online, a faculty who is retooling a course for virtual instruction, or a staff member who rethinks how engagement programming might live online, rather than seeing the limits of what we cannot do virtually, I challenge you – what are the possibilities that we haven’t even considered yet? 

We should expect that there will be challenges and even failures at times as we learn and try out new tools and approaches. I ask all of you to be tolerant and kind to one another as we navigate these changes. We are fortunate to be supported by an incredible team who has already been working around the clock to ensure student success during this time. I am confident that with our collective efforts, we will emerge from this, and we might even be stronger than before. 

Recognizing that you all may have questions, I am including key contacts below. Please also be sure to bookmark and return to the webpage we have established that we are continually updating throughout the outbreak.  

Sincerely, 

DY Signature

David Yager
President & CEO

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Questions?
For academic questions: Office of the Provost – provost@uarts.edu
For financial aid questions: Student Financial Services - finaid@uarts.edu 
For health-related questions: Student Health Services - healthservices@uarts.edu 
For housing-related questions: Office of Residence Life & Conduct: reslife@uarts.edu
For international student questions: Office of Student Affairs: studentaffairs@uarts.edu
For any other student life questions: Office of Student Affairs: studentaffairs@uarts.edu 

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